WHA Bellevue Refugee Collaboration
More than a million migrants and refugees arrived on European shores in 2015 alone, and with more than 150,000 in the first months of this year, the immigration crisis is continuing. More than 80% of these people are fleeing conflict and persecution in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Genthod-Bellevue, the area of Geneva where Webster is based, is currently hosting around 50 male refugees and asylum seekers from the aforementioned nations. In collaboration with the Bellevue community, the Webster Humanitarian Association (WHA) has established a weekly area where Webster Geneva students and the refugees meet to get to know each other, play games, sing and dance, learn about each others cultures and discover film photography. From running around campus on a photography treasure hunt to playing musical chairs in the classroom, from learning how to say ‘hello’ in Pashtu, Arabic, French and Farsi to having an impromptu karaoke session, they have had a lot of fun getting to know each other. Most of the young men speak very good English, are university educated and love football. Since we are nearly all immigrants, we share the common experience of learning to fit into Swiss society.
As part of the fun and games, they’ve also been testing the limits of their creative abilities in the darkroom on campus. Supported by the Media and Communications department, all the refugees received film cameras, learned how to process the negatives and are currently in the process of printing their photos in the darkroom. All of this is leading up to the grand opening of an exhibition of their photos here at Webster Geneva on Tuesday April 26th.
Story by Jessica Wright.